/Whats beneath Trumps threat to destroy cultural sites

Whats beneath Trumps threat to destroy cultural sites


What the conversation has often missed, however, is why strikes in this vein are such a big deal: The damage inflicted chips away at the very identities and histories of their targets.

More importantly, these signatories were “convinced that damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind, since each people makes its contribution to the culture of the world.” (The US Defense Department
Law of War manual says that “acts of hostility may be directed against cultural property, its immediate surroundings, or appliances in use for its protection when military necessity imperatively requires such acts.”)

Preserving cultural artifacts speaks to a vital kind of world-building. This work can, in its own way, ratify the existence of a variety of people, afford them dignity and help them to recover in the wake of tragedy.

Trump appears to backtrack on threat to target Iranian cultural sites

The opposite, then — obliterating such objects — is nothing short of a violent strain of erasure.

The US and the world, in fact, have recognized that cultural destruction has been an aim of terrorist groups including the Taliban, ISIS and al Qaeda.

In 2001, the Taliban demolished the monumental
Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan, saying of the two statues: “These idols have been gods of the infidels.” In 2015, ISIS released a video depicting the annihilation of the
Temple of Baalshamin, one of the most complete ancient ruins at the Syrian site of Palmyra. Meanwhile, since 2015, al Qaeda has
targeted various sites in Yemen as the civil war there rages on.

Efforts of this nature go beyond mere military strategy. They betray the much broader ambition to rewrite history by blowing it apart.

Of course, you don’t have to look abroad to see the significance of protected cultural patrimony. For instance, what are the Smithsonian museums in Washington if not institutions dedicated to elevating the country’s many cultures and at times barbed histories, that its citizens may remember and learn from them?

The President initially tweeted his “WARNING” on Saturday “that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
Trump
reiterated his threat on Sunday.
He
backed off only after two of his top administration officials stressed that the US would follow the law, telling reporters on Tuesday: “If that’s what the law is, I like to obey the law.”
But it’d be ill-advised to dismiss the President’s recent behavior too quickly. It’d be better, instead, to put it into context: Trump’s is a presidency that’s been defined by
various cultural antagonisms. And this is
another example of that.
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